So, your little ones are settled in to school now – but do you know what they’re doing at 11am on Tuesday? Have they just sprung a ‘surprise’ school trip on you? Being proactive in your children’s education is hard when we lead such busy lives, but it benefits everyone in the long run. Here are some ways to help them make the most of ‘the best days of their life’.
Talk to the school
Are other parents talking about a school trip you don’t about? Many young children don’t worry about that letter in their school bag. If you miss more than one or two, ask to collect them straight from the teacher – it’s also a great time for a quick chat.
- Keep a copy of school planners somewhere that’s easy to see
- If your child has a ‘diary’, ask to see it every day – without fail
- Check the school website for news
- Don’t ever miss a parents’ evening
- Do pop along to social events whenever you can
It’s not fair to treat the school disco like an extended one-to-one, but it is a good time to just ‘check in’ and maintain the relationship with the adults who are looking after your children, full time, 5 days each week.
Start some great homework habits
The washing up isn’t important. It can wait until later, honestly. Finding half an hour to help with homework is one of the best things you can do with your child. Starting those great homework habits early makes it easier for them to revise for exams at high school (and to do three times as much homework).
- Make sure your children have eaten before they start homework – a tired, hungry child won’t be able to concentrate.
- Work together in a quiet area, with good lighting and no distractions. If the TV is on, turn it off – they’ll never be able to concentrate, even if the volume is low.
Make homework a special time that both of you enjoy. A great time to do homework is at the dining table after you’ve cleared away your evening meal – but it’s also a time when the computer beckons, so set some ground rules early on:
- Don’t find the answers for them, teach them how to find the right answers
- Encourage them to search online, look things up in a book, or just work through it.
- Talk about what they’re doing in school and how the homework relates to that.
Don’t leave everything to the school
If your child is still at that magical age when they enjoy spending time with you, then you’re still their most important teacher. You teach them right and wrong, you teach them good manners and ‘best behaviour’, and you can make them believe they can achieve anything.
Encourage, praise, but don’t go overboard – it’s not always just about taking part. Read with them as often as you can. Make everyday things into learning games, such as counting items in the trolley or reading road signs and don’t be scared of their questions – if you don’t know the answer, you can find it together.
At the weekend? Disguise learning as ‘fun’. Swot up on a few nature facts and go for a walk in the woods. Get grandparents involved too. Children will often sit spellbound by a grandparent when they’d be bored of you in 30 seconds.
Days out can be expensive, but a little forward planning (and a well-packed bag) can keep the costs down. You don’t have to do it every weekend, but it’s a great thing to do if a local attraction relates to what they’re doing at school.